A quarter of social housing goes to tenants considered “urgent”

Photo: Brandon Hartley

Around one in four rent-controlled properties that were vacated last year went to people considered “urgent” but there were widespread variations, broadcaster NOS said on Monday.

In Groningen and Almere, for example, half the available social housing units went to people who were homeless, refugees, or were considered urgently in need of a home for another reason. In Enschede, by contrast, just 3% of social housing went to urgent cases. 

In total, 43 out of the 50 biggest local authority areas in the country took part in the NOS research. 

Currently, 57% of the Dutch housing stock is owner-occupied, 33% is rent-controlled and just 9% is available for higher earners who want to rent.

Local authorities are free to set their own definitions of who should be considered a priority case. Some, for example, give priority to divorcing couples when young children are involved, others to teachers moving to the area. Some 9% of the vacant social housing last year was allocated to refugees with permanent residency status. 

To qualify for social housing in the Netherlands – that is housing worth up to €808 in the current points system – prospective tenants must meet strict income requirements, with a gross salary of no more than €44,035 for a single person or €48,625 for a couple, with or without children.

The NOS research also showed that the average time people wait for a rent-controlled property is seven years, but can be as long as 19 years in Amstelveen and Haarlemmermeer. 

Earlier this year it emerged that Amsterdam housing corporations had allocated just 22% of rent-controlled properties last year to people who were not considered urgent. 

The government has plans to build 900,000 new homes in the Netherlands by the turn of the decade, of which one third should be social rentals.

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